Interprofessional Education in the Residential Aged Care Setting: A Case Study Approach

By Kirsty Marles, Jennifer Lawrence, Margo Brewer, Rosemary Saunders and Fiona Lake.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In 2009 the Board of Brightwater Care Group supported the development of a pilot Interprofessional Education (IPE) program. The Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE) define IPE as “...those occasions when members (or students) of two or more professions learn with, from, and about one another to improve collaboration and the quality of care.” In the true sense of this definition, Brightwater’s Teaching for the Future Program is designed to give students in their final year of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dietetics, physiotherapy, speech pathology, and occupational therapy, an opportunity to learn with, from and about one another. Through this program, Brightwater staff are also involved in learning about the different health disciplines, and the benefits reported have included the team working more effectively and efficiently together. The IPE model builds on resident-centric care. The model has been designed to slot into site operations, having links to all areas of operations including: recruitment, training, continuous quality improvement processes, and staff development. Although it is acknowledged that student placements can drain resources, the integration of the IPE program into site operations has resulted in the development of a sustainable, long term program with benefits to residents, staff, the site and the future of IPE. Each student placement varies in length and assessment requirement, however all students undertake the same Interprofessional assessment. The program has to be flexible and dynamic to adapt to the continually changing team make up (not dissimilar to the real health world). The placement is focused around case-based activities which include joint student assessments where students get to explore different communication styles and develop opportunities to work together with other disciplines.

Keywords: Interprofessional Education, Students, Interprofessional Teams, Allied Health, Health Sciences, Residential Aged Care, Student Program, Recruitment and Retention, Student Placements

Aging and Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.15-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.435MB).

Kirsty Marles

Project Manager, Interprofessional Education Project, Brightwater Care Group, Curtin University & The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Kirsty Marles is the Project Manager leading the Brightwater Care Group, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia “Interprofessional Education Project”. Kirsty has a wealth of experience managing a range of health related projects across Australia. She is particularly passionate about improving the design of health care teams and associated systems to maximise patient care. Kirsty has a Graduate Certificate in Health Services Management, a Graduate Diploma in Public Health and is currently expanding her research and evaluation capacity through participation in a Professional Doctorate. Her research area is in the Leadership and Management of Healthcare Teams.

Jennifer Lawrence

General Manager of Services for Younger People and Major Projects, Brightwater Care Group, Perth, Australia

Jennifer Lawrence is the General Manager of Services for Younger People and Major Projects at Brightwater Care Group. A Medical Scientist by background, Jennifer worked initially at Royal Perth Hospital before taking the role of Chief Scientist with a private pathology organization. Jennifer held a number of executive roles within the private pathology industry both locally and interstate before moving to Brightwater Care Group in 2003. Currently, Jennifer oversees the business operations of 10 facilities for people with disabilities, is sponsor of a $20mil facility rebuild project and has responsibility for occupational health and safety, workers compensation and insurance for Brightwater Care Group. Jennifer is also responsible for The Brightwater Centre which is Brightwater’s research arm.

Margo Brewer

Director Interprofessional Practice, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

Margo Brewer [BAppSc (Speech & Hearing), GDipCoaching] has been the Director of Interprofessional Practice in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, for 4 years. As a speech pathologist and life coach she has accrued a wide range of experience as a clinician, clinical educator, academic and project manager. Margo is currently a member of several working groups including the Faculty of Health Sciences’ Interprofessional Education Reference Group, Fieldwork Education Committee, and Interprofessional Practice Placement Program Steering Group. Her expertise in interprofessional education has been recognised through her expert membership status on the LaTrobe Community Service Student Supervised Clinic Project Reference Group, as a PhD supervisor for a Monash University student, and regular invitations to present on, and consult with, others locally, nationally and internationally on interprofessional education and practice.

Assoc Prof. Rosemary Saunders

Associate Professor, School of Population Health, , Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Rosemary Saunders is a nursing academic in the School of Population Health at the University of Western Australia. Rosemary has extensive experience in the acute, community and aged care sectors with a strong focus on nursing education, both locally and internationally. Rosemary has developed alternative models for clinical practice by establishing community partnerships. This has provided students with dynamic learning environments to facilitate the theory to practice link, and build partnerships with local government regions, communities and local health regions. Rosemary is currently leading the implementation of the “Beyond the Teaching Nursing Home: Community of Partnership of Learning and Care” project and is a member of several interprofessional education projects. Rosemary has a strong commitment to nursing education and her areas of interest include clinical practice, interprofessional education and practice, and aged care. Rosemary is currently undertaking doctoral research at the University of Sydney and exploring “Older Adult’s Involvement Health Professional Education in a Community of Learning”.

Prof. Fiona Lake

Head of School / Winthrop Professor, School of Medicine and Pharmacology, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Fiona Lake holds the Eric Saint Chair in Medicine at University of Western Australia, based at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where she is a respiratory physician with an interest in interstitial lung disease and management of COPD. Her academic interest is in medical education, in improving the clinical learning environment. With colleagues she has developed workshops in disciplines of medicine, nursing, dentistry, allied health and veterinarian science called “Teaching on the Run” (, as well as workshops for trainees called “Learning on the Run”, all aimed to improve clinical learning and supervision.